The lazy days of summer are typically anything but for busy preschoolers. Natural young scientists, poets, artists, inventors, collectors, and avid story listeners, young children are developing skills and interests all the time. So, when you read to a child and explore activities together this summer, do it for the sheer fun of it but know that as you read and play together, you are fostering many developing skills. Here are more great books and activities that provide learning and fun for you and a young child.
Tomorrow’s Alphabet by George Shannon, Illustrated by Donald Crews
Greenwillow; paperback 1999; ISBN 0688164242
More than a typical concept book, Tomorrow’s Alphabet encourages the reader to think and explore the alphabet in a different way. One side of the page holds a riddle: “D is for puppy—,” while the other explains: “puppy is “tomorrow’s dog.” Sure to keep the alphabet from getting stale over the summer, this book will foster developing language skills. Preschoolers who know their sounds and letters will appreciate the twist on familiar ABC’s and undoubtedly enjoy stumping their friends the riddles.
My Alphabet Museum
For further exploration of the alphabet create a My Alphabet Museum. Collect two shoeboxes, remove the covers, and glue the boxes side-by-side, such that the open sides are facing the same direction. Ask a child to pick two letters, and to write the letters on an index card. If she needs help, you can lightly write the letter in pencil and have the child trace over it in crayon or marker. Glue or tape the letters so that they are standing up, one in each box. Then ask the child to collect items that begin with each letter and add them to the museum. Display these items as long as you want, or after a few days, pick two more letters. This museum makes a great showcase for numbers, colors, and shapes, too.
Life on Earth (A Very Short Pop-Up History of) by Stephen Holmes
Paper Engineering by Jonathan Lambert, Barron’s; 2002; ISBN 0764154567
Beginning with the very first living things in the sea to babies born every two seconds today, the evolution of living things is chronicled in the most fun way imaginable. Sure to spark interest in living things, this book will help build a child’s understanding of the natural world as well as strengthen developing thinking skills.
Inside a Seed
Explore life inside a seed by asking a child, “How do you think things become alive and grow?” Together, perform the “Inside a Seed” experiment by gathering some lima bean seeds and soaking them over night. Ask the child what he thinks might be inside. The next day, carefully remove the seed coating from the seeds, and help the child open them. Show the baby plant inside ready to grow with food surrounding it. To explore further, ask a child to find foods with seeds and then locate the seeds. She may need help in identifying the seed in foods like bananas or strawberries.
Shelley Butler is co-author of the Parents’ Choice Award-winning book, The Field Guide to Parenting with Deb Kratz. For more information on her work, to contact the author, or for more suggestions of great children’s books, please visit their website at www.fieldguidetoparenting.com.